I have previously written about some of the methods of sharing content in Power BI, such as Work spaces, Publish To Web, and Content Pack. Latest update of Power BI includes stunning update for sharing mechanism which is the best of all for sharing. In this post I’ll explain everything about new Power BI Apps; a mechanism to share the content in Power BI in a way that has security and governance together. If you want to learn more about Power BI; Read Power BI book from Rookie to Rock Star.
Power BI Sharing Methods
Till now there were about 6 methods of sharing content in Power BI, including:
- Simple Dashboard Sharing
- Publish To Web
- Embed in SharePoint Online
- Power BI Embedded
- Power BI Work Spaces
- Power BI Content Packs
I have written about some of these already (follow links above), and will write about the rest soon. Yesterday, Microsoft announced preview version of Power BI Apps, which is a new method of sharing. This is an enhancement version of two methods previously: Work spaces, and Content Packs together!
Power BI App
A Power BI app is a grouped content of Power BI (including Dashboards, Reports, Work books, and Data Sets), which is shared with organization or a group of people within organization. Let’s go through creating and consuming an App to see how it works in action.
Power BI Service in Preview Mode
At the time of writing this blog post, Power BI App is just released as preview and is not yet available as general available. You need to turn on the Preview mode of Power BI service to be able to work with it. To turn Power BI in the preview mode, Go to Setting in Power BI website;
In Setting page, Go to Preview features section, and turn this feature on.
App Work Space
To start creating an app, you’ll need an App Work Space. This is a new generation of work spaces in Power BI. content that you will have in this work space will be the entire App for the work space. If you already have a work space, you can use that as an App Work Space.
app work space is like a folder that is shared with a group of people. Set a name for the app work space. You can specify if users has access to this work space via edit or read only. Please note that this way of access is only for people that you add them in the group directly, not for users of this App.
After creating the app work space, you should see a new work space (folder) which is blank at first
Publish Content to App
For publishing content to app, just simply publish it to the app work space. Open Power BI Desktop, go through Publish, and select the app work space created.
After publishing content into the new app work space, you should be able to publish App from there.
You can easily publish an app from the app work space. Just click on the work space, and then from top right hand side, select Publish App. Set a description and color for the app. You can also see how many reports, dashboards, work books, and data sets are part of this app.
In the next tab, you will see the content. and you are also able to select the landing page for the content pack! This is a very good feature, that we haven’t had before. Now with Power BI Apps you can set a landing page for people in the group.
You can also set group of people that you want the app to be shared with (entire organization or specific groups), and then click on Finish.
After publishing the app, users will be able to access it immediately. However, you can share the link with them to make it easier for them to access;
Users can go to their Power BI account page, and click on Apps, and then Get Apps. They will be able to see all apps shared with them.
Users can simply Get the app, and use it right away.
with clicking on the app, users simply will be redirected to the landing page (if specified), and can explore the content in the app.
Changes in the App
You can apply any changes you want on the content in the app work space. This will NOT affect users, until you “update app”. With the new update they will get the updated content. You can also “Unpublish” the app.
My Thoughts on Power BI Apps
Power BI Apps comes to replace content pack and work spaces with one better solution, and it is very promising. With this new combination you will have power of both; You can use work spaces to group the content together, and give edit access to your power users. and you can also use content pack to share the content to the end users.
Power BI App is a very new feature, and many updates will come for this in the near future, including;
- Disassociating from Office 365 groups.
- Push app to uses without the need for them to install (get) it.
- Selective content publish from app work space.
- Copying content between work spaces.
- External Sharing
Above list is based on what Power BI team’s blog post mentioned as the road map for Power BI apps. However, I have some thoughts that I think would be great features for Power BI apps, and users will get lots of benefits from it. Here is my list:
- Power BI Apps is not full replacement of Content Pack. Users cannot Make a Copy as they could in content pack. You might say; what is the benefit of copying? The answer is: Power BI is all about self-service. there are always some users who want to be able to create their own version of the report. With Content Pack that was simply possible. They could make a copy, and change their copy without touching the original report. (read this blog post to learn how). with the new app; they cannot change anything. they cannot make a copy. or if they are part of the group with edit access to the work space, then they CAN CHANGE the original! which is not good. It is either too much power for them, or nothing.
- Immediate need for the app work space administrator. At the moment, users who are not admin of the group, but only have Edit access, are able to publish app! This is too much access. Consider a situation that users are using a published app, and suddenly someone by mistake updates the app! It is critical that the admin of app work space be the only person who can publish the app. Or at least can give this permission to specific group of people.
These are critical needs for Power BI Apps in my opinion. And I believe Microsoft Power BI Team will consider them and implement them quickly (as they’ve done already with many other suggestions of the community). What is your opinion about it? Do you think Apps would have been much better with some other features? name it in the comments area.